Symptoms of Common STDs in Men

Most people tend to assume that if they get infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD), they would immediately know about it. However, you can contract many STDs and not experience any symptoms. Due to this, many STDs are often mistaken to be other health conditions. Infact, many STDs are also characterized by flu-like symptoms in the early stages, making it difficult to diagnose. In men, especially, there are many STDs that have a complete lack of symptoms, making it difficult to understand if an STD is present or not. However, there are many symptoms that can alert men to the presence of a sexually transmitted disease. Here are some of the symptoms of common STDs in men and how to deal with them.

Symptoms of Common STDs in Men

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) affect millions of people around the world, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections every year.(1) Many men do not realize that they have been infected because many of them do not experience any symptoms.

However, this does not mean that the contracted infection is not affecting their health. Some of the STDs that do not have any visible symptoms may cause other types of symptoms that you have to watch out for. These may include:

  • Burning sensation or pain during urination
  • Need to urinate more frequently or urgently
  • Experiencing pain during ejaculation

At the same time, there are many STDs that have distinguishing symptoms such as:

  • Bumps, warts, blisters, or sores on the genitals or penis
  • Abnormal discharge from the tip of the penis usually colored or foul-smelling

Here are some of the common STDs that affect men and the symptoms associated with each of them:

Symptoms of Chlamydia in Men

Chlamydia is a common STD in men caused by chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. It can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex with any partner who is already infected with chlamydia.(2)

Chlamydia is one of the most common STD in the world, especially in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are over 1,600,000 chlamydia cases reported in the United States alone in 2016.(3)

Chlamydia can infect both men and women. Many men who get infected with chlamydia do not display any symptoms throughout the entire time period they are infected. On the other hand, some men can start showing some symptoms several weeks after contracting the infection.

Some of the common symptoms of chlamydia infection in men include:

  • Swollen or inflamed testicles
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Pain while urinating

Some of the less common symptoms of chlamydia infection in the rectum include:

  • Rectal pain
  • Discharge from the rectum
  • Bleeding while passing stool
  • Some men may also experience pain in the lower abdomen.
  • Since most people with chlamydia do not experience any symptoms, many of the cases tend to go unreported and undiagnosed.(4)

Chlamydia can be treated with an antibiotic regimen, and a person typically recovers from the infection within a week to ten days.

Symptoms of Genital Herpes in Men

Genital herpes is another very common STD in men that causes herpetic sores. These are painful blisters or bumps filled with fluid that break open, and the fluid oozes out. The prevalence of this STD is also quite high, with nearly 16 percent of all sexually active people in the ages of 14 to 49 suffering from genital herpes.(5)

The common symptoms of genital herpes in men include:

  • Itching in the genitals or rectum
  • The infected site starts to tingle or itch before the appearance of blisters
  • Small fluid-filled or red-colored bumps
  • Ulcers that leave scabs
  • Blisters that appear in the mouth, on the lips, face, or anywhere else that has come in contact with the infected areas
  • Lymph nodes may become swollen
  • You may have fever, body ache, and headaches

Keep in mind that it is possible to transmit herpes even when you don’t show any symptoms or don’t have any open sores.

Genital herpes is treated with antiviral medications such as valacyclovir and acyclovir.(6)(7) However, these medications can only manage the symptoms of herpes, as there is no cure for herpes. It is an incurable STD.

Symptoms of Gonorrhea in Men

Another common bacterial STD is gonorrhea, which is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This bacteria affects the moist and warm areas of the body, such as the:

  • Eyes
  • Throat
  • Vagina
  • Anus
  • Urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder)

Gonorrhea spreads from person to person through unprotected vagina, anal, or oral sex. People who do not use a condom are at the highest risk of getting infected by gonorrhea.

Once infected with this bacteria, it is possible that many men may not experience any visible symptoms of Gonorrhea for many weeks. In fact, some men never develop any symptoms of gonorrhea.

In most cases, the symptoms start to become visible a week after contracting the bacteria. The first and most noticeable symptom of gonorrhea in men is a painful or burning sensation while urinating. As the bacterial infection progresses, other symptoms start to become visible.

These other symptoms of gonorrhea in men include:

  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Pain or swelling in the testicles
  • Painful joint
  • Rash
  • Pus-like discharge from the penis which may be white, yellow, greenish, or beige in color
  • Redness or swelling at the opening of the penis

The infection tends to remain in the body for a couple of weeks, even after the symptoms have been treated. In some rare cases, gonorrhea can continue to cause several side effects or damage to the body after treatment as well, especially in the testicles and urethra in men. In some men, the pain may even spread to the rectum.

Gonorrhea is treated with a course of two antibiotics or dual therapy.(8)(9)

Symptoms of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in Men

HPV is an umbrella term used to refer to a group of viruses that can be found in more than 150 strains. Out of these 150 strains, only 40 are considered to be harmful to humans. HPV is also one of the most commonly seen STDs in people today. Both men and women are likely to get infected by at least one strain of the virus during their lifetime.

It is estimated that there are around 15 million new cases of HPV infection every year in the United States, and there are over 80 million Americans who are currently infected with HPV.(10)

Many men infected with this virus do not experience any symptoms, though some may develop genital warts. There are certain strains of HPV, though, that can cause anal, throat, and penile cancer in men, so getting tested regularly for STDs is essential. However, there is no recommended test for HPV in men as of yet. Some men are at a higher risk of developing HPV-associated cancers, especially men who have a weakened immune system.

In men who do end up having some symptoms of HPV, these include:

  • Warts present in the throat or mouth (only if you have had oral sex with an infected partner)
  • Genital warts (which are flesh-colored and flat, or they can occur in clusters of tiny raised bumps that have a cauliflower appearance)
  • Swelling around the penis (usually, if you have genital warts)
  • Itching around the penis

HPV and genital warts are generally treated with medication that has to be applied to the warts. However, if the medication does not work, then the warts have to be removed surgically.

Symptoms of Hepatitis B in Men

There are many forms of hepatitis, and hepatitis is caused by the hepatitis B virus. Unlike other common STDs, hepatitis B does not produce symptoms around the genitals. It can, instead, cause severe inflammation of the liver.

The hepatitis B virus can be contracted if you come into contact with bodily fluids or blood of a person infected with the virus. Most people infected with hepatitis B do not show any symptoms, and those who do experience the symptoms, tend to usually mistake it for the flu or the common cold.

However, even if a person does not experience any symptoms, the virus will still continue to damage the liver if it is left untreated.

If the symptoms of hepatitis B are present, then these are the common symptoms that men may experience:

The earlier you receive treatment for hepatitis B, the better it is. Doctors will give you a vaccine and an injection of hepatitis B immune globulin to boost your immune system and help fight off the infection.

Conclusion: How to Prevent STDs?

There are millions of people worldwide who are currently infected with some form of STD. You might be infected with an STD and not even come to know of it since many STDs do not have any visible symptoms. This is why practicing safe and protected sex is the most critical step you can take to prevent getting an STD infection.

Additionally, the only way to remain safe from contracting an STD is to abstain from having any type of sexual contact with bodily fluids and open sores of an infected person. However, other ways of preventing STDs include wearing condoms during sex, dental barriers or dams during oral sex, and refraining from sex with multiple partners, can help prevent the spread of STDs.

If you suspect you may have contracted an STD, then consulting a doctor at the earliest will help prevent any complications from the infection.

References:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). April is STD Awareness Month. [online] Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/features/stdawareness [Accessed 16 Feb. 2020].
  2. Jaschek, G., Gaydos, C.A., Welsh, L.E. and Quinn, T.C., 1993. Direct detection of Chlamydia trachomatis in urine specimens from symptomatic and asymptomatic men by
  3. using a rapid polymerase chain reaction assay. Journal of clinical microbiology, 31(5), pp.1209-1212.
  4. Cdc.gov. (2020). [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/factsheets/std-trends-508.pdf [Accessed 16 Feb. 2020].
  5. Cdc.gov. (2020). Detailed STD Facts – Chlamydia. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia-detailed.htm [Accessed 16 Feb. 2020].
  6. Cdc.gov. (2020). STD Facts – Genital Herpes. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes.htm [Accessed 16 Feb. 2020].
  7. Tyring, S.K., Baker, D. and Snowden, W., 2002. Valacyclovir for herpes simplex virus infection: long-term safety and sustained efficacy after 20 years’ experience with acyclovir. The Journal of infectious diseases, 186(Supplement_1), pp.S40-S46.
  8. Peterslund, N.A., Ipsen, J., Schonheyder, H., Seyer-Hansen, K., Esmann, V. and Juhl, H., 1981. Acyclovir in herpes zoster. The Lancet, 318(8251), pp.827-830.
  9. Karney, W.W., Pedersen, A.H., Nelson, M., Adams, H., Pfeifer, R.T. and Holmes, K.K., 1977. Spectinomycin versus tetracycline for the treatment of gonorrhea. New England Journal of Medicine, 296(16), pp.889-894.
  10. Karney, W.W., Pedersen, A.H., Nelson, M., Adams, H., Pfeifer, R.T. and Holmes, K.K., 1977. Spectinomycin versus tetracycline for the treatment of gonorrhea. New England Journal of Medicine, 296(16), pp.889-894.
  11. Cdc.gov. (2020). STD Facts – Human papillomavirus (HPV). [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm [Accessed 16 Feb. 2020].

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